U.S. Green Building Council | LEED Project Administration & Certification
Two Trails ability to streamline a new construction project’s certification process will reduce soft cost project certification fees. We currently provide guidance under the LEED for New Construction, LEED for Core & Shell, & LEED for Schools Rating Systems. We want your project to succeed and achieve the highest possible rating, with the lowest amount of cost to your project. We only do what makes sense for the project and the projects budget. We have the experience and the know how to take your project from design phase to completion all while handling the LEED administration along the way.
- LEED for New Construction & Major Renovations 2009
- LEED for Schools
- LEED for Core and Shell Development 2009
- LEED for Neighborhood Development
LEED Commissioning & State Code Commissioning
What is Building Commissioning?
Commissioning is "a quality-oriented process for achieving, verifying, and documenting that the performance of facilities, systems, and assemblies meets defined objectives and criteria".
Commissioning is intended to be an all inclusive process for the planning, delivery, verification, and managing risks to critical functions performed in, or by, facilities. Commissioning ensures building quality using peer review and in-field or on-site system performance verification. Commissioning also accomplishes higher energy efficiency, environmental health, occupant safety and improves indoor air quality by verifying that the building components are working correctly and that the Commissioning plan is implemented with the highest efficiency.
Essentially, the commissioning process formalizes the review and integration of all project expectations during planning and design, construction, training and occupancy phases by way of inspections and functional performance testing. This initial commissioning event also becomes the Owner’s “baseline of reference" for system operations and functional model of the building.
Who Commissions a Building?
Who actually performs commissioning depends on the owner and the project. Typically, the building owner hires an independent third party to perform commissioning. This individual is often referred to as the commissioning agent (CA).
Those involved in the building commissioning field generally believe the CA should work for the owner and represent the owner's interest. However, there are numerous options. The commissioning agent can work under contract to the construction manager. This works well when the construction manager is independent of the contractor's team. There is interest among architecture and engineering firms to include commissioning as part of their services to help ensure they deliver quality buildings to their clients.
What are the Steps in Commissioning?
The extent of the commissioning process can vary as well as the roles of those involved in the project. Ideally the CA is hired during the predesign phase and is involved through the post-acceptance phase of the construction process. The roles of the CA in each phase of the design and construction process are described below.
The CA, working with the owner, establishes the parameters and expectations for the commissioning process. The CA may have a limited input and review role in this phase.
The CA will outline the scope of design requirements and design intent, describe the systems to be installed, outline the documentation requirements for each party involved in the commissioning process, define subsequent commissioning procedures, and document the process.
The CA completes the commissioning plan at the beginning of the construction phase. The CA obtains project schedules and gathers and reviews the contractor submittals and operation and maintenance manuals. The CA writes detailed functional performance test plans for each system and piece of equipment involved in the commissioning process.
The CA makes site visits to observe construction, noting details that might affect equipment and system performance or operation. He or she coordinates with the various contractors to perform the pre-functional performance tests. The CA oversees all start-up tests and ensures that pre-functional performance tests and checklists are completed and all deficiencies resolved.
Using the functional performance test plans, the CA observes and verifies the proper operation of equipment, systems, and controls per contract documents. He or she verifies that corrective measures are taken, and ensures the presence of complete operation and maintenance manuals. The actual performance testing is usually carried out by the various contractors. The CA oversees this process and may be actively involved. Shortly after the functional performance tests are complete, the CA finishes a commissioning final report, including all documentation, and submits it to the owner.
Training for the building operations staff generally occurs near the end of the acceptance phase or shortly after the building is occupied. The training should be done by the installing contractors, designers, and manufacturers' representatives and may include the CA. The CA should be involved in establishing the training needs of the building operations and maintenance staff and ensuring those needs are met.
Building operations and maintenance staff ensure the proper functioning of the facility's systems, adapt the system to changing occupancy and use, maintain a history of the facility, and document all changes. The CA can be involved in establishing the documentation methods for this phase and in reviewing performance and recommending improvements.
What About Cost?
The price of building commissioning varies depending on the size of the project, complexity of building systems, and the systems to be commissioned. The following ranges provide rough rules of thumb:
Total building commissioning: less than 1% of total construction cost. Equipment commissioning: 2% to 5% of equipment cost. Owners often say they cannot afford to pay for building commissioning. It is important to recognize the potential costs of not commissioning. These costs include schedule overruns, change orders, litigation costs, high vacancy levels, uncomfortable occupants, excessively long shakedown periods, costly post-occupancy corrections, and inability to perform adequate operation and maintenance. These costs can far exceed the price paid for commissioning. Commissioning reduces the risk of incurring these costs. Also, experience has shown that a building that is not commissioned will cost 8% to 20%more to operate than a commissioned building.
New for the State of Florida Building Code 2014 5th edition. Newly built commercial buildings will require 3rd party commissioning. At Two Trails we have experience commissioning buildings since this is a requirement for sustainable certified commercial projects. While this is new to you, rest assured this is business as usual of us.
Here are a few items that are required under the new Florida building code.
- Commissioning plan by a registered design professional or agency
- Commissioning of the building mechanical, electrical power and lighting systems
- Air distribution system testing, adjusting and balancing
- Air system balancing
- Hydronic system balancing
- Functional performance testing
An energy model is an indispensable tool for green building design that helps to maximize energy conservation, decrease environmental impact, and generate savings over the life of your building. The model is a computer generated simulation used to analyze different energy conservation measures and compare them to a baseline design so that Two Trails can identify the best solutions. When conducted early in the life-cycle of the project the energy model will determine the best way to lower energy costs while attaining LEED credits for your certification.
ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS)
National Green Building Certification is based on the ICC 700-2008 National Green Building Standard™. The goal of NGBS is to establish a much needed and nationally recognizable standard definition of green building. NGBS is the only residential green building rating system to undergo the full consensus process and receive approval from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The Standard defines green building for single and multifamily homes, residential remodeling and site development projects while still allowing for the flexibility required for regionally appropriate best green practices. The Standard includes five categories incorporated into the everyday process of home building: energy efficiency, water and resource conservation, sustainable or recycled products, and indoor air quality. NGBS certified projects have the opportunity to achieve one of four green certification levels for homes available in the Standard; Bronze, Silver, Gold and Emerald.
U.S. Green Building Council | LEED for Homes
Two Trails ability to streamline a new construction project’s certification process will reduce soft cost project certification fees. We provide guidance for LEED for Homes certifications as it is a sightly different process than other LEED tracks. Two Trails can facilitate all other LEED for Homes services such as HERS testing and verification, energy modeling, and LEED Green Rater Services. We want your project to succeed and achieve the highest possible rating, with the lowest amount of cost to your project. We only do what makes sense for the project and the projects budget. We have the experience and the know how to take your project from design phase to completion all while handling the LEED administration along the way.
The HERS Index is a scoring system established by RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network). A HERS Index of 100 is given to a home with specifications that match that of a HERS reference home that is based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. The lower the home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is compared to the HERS reference home. Each 1-point reduction in the HERS Index corresponds to a 1% reduction in the energy consumption and a 1% improvement in the energy efficiency of the home. Thus, a home with a HERS Index of 70 is 30% more energy efficient than the HERS reference home. A HERS Index of 0 would represent a home where renewable power generation is being utilized (such as solar energy) at a level where the energy generation matches the energy consumption of the home based on the HERS Index. These homes have implemented energy efficient features as well as renewable energy generation.
The Energy Rating Guide
The Building Energy Rating Guide is the official document generated as a result of the HERS energy rating. It contains a building rating scale illustrating the energy use of the rated home in comparison to the HERS reference home. It serves as an energy “yardstick”, much like the MPG rating does for an automobile. It allows one to compare the energy efficiencies of one home to another. The Building Energy Rating Guide also includes a bar chart, giving a numerical breakdown of the basic sources of energy costs for the rated home. It also shows the HERS Index and the star level of the home (5 Star+ being the highest level). If the rated home qualifies for an energy efficient mortgage (EEM), that is also illustrated on the Building Energy Rating Guide.
The Building Energy Rating Guide can be a very valuable document to the home owner if the HERS Index is low. It can be used to market and distinguish the home’s added energy efficiency features at the time of sale. Higher energy efficiency leads to lower ownership costs. This is turn makes the home more affordable to own.
ENERGY STAR® qualified homes meet strict energy guidelines established by the Environmental Protections Agency and are at least 15% more energy-efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC). They also are preferred by many homebuyers because they save money on utilities, are more comfortable and help protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Two Trails is a nationally certified Home Energy Rating company that provides ENERGY STAR® certification for new homes, a HERS Provider, and a LEED for Homes Provider. ENERGY STAR homes provide greater comfort, lower utility bills, protect the environment and are independently verified by a third party to ensure compliance with the government-backed program requirements.
The Florida Water Star program is a voluntary certification program for new residential and commercial construction and existing home renovation. The program encourages water efficiency in appliances, plumbing fixtures, irrigation systems and landscapes, as well as water quality benefits from best management practices in landscapes. Based on estimates, an average Florida Water Star homeowner can save up to 20 percent of water use annually. The program outlines standards for a broad range of homes — from a condominium with no yard to an older home on a half-acre lot with an aging irrigation system. Commercial properties save even more, thereby lowering operating costs by reducing water and energy bills.
Blower Door / Envelope Testing Certification
Residential Properties in Florida Permitted after July 1, 2017 Require Testing
When the Florida Building Code, Energy Conservation Version 5 adopted mandatory air infiltration testing (ie, blower door testing) for new construction homes and residential units, enforcement authorities sought greater clarification on who qualified as an “approved entity” to do the testing.
Sections R402.4.1.2 and R104.5 indicate that a Florida blower door test must be done by an approved third party Energy Auditor or Energy Rater. Both titles require certification – either from the Building Performance Institute (BPI) or Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) – to qualify.
Two Trails is an approved third party provider for blower door testing.
EPA created Indoor airPLUS certification to help builders meet the growing consumer preference for homes with improved indoor air quality. EPA developed additional construction specifications to help improve indoor air quality in new homes.
Construction specifications include the careful selection of and installation of moisture control systems; heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems; combustion-venting systems; radon resistant construction; and low-emitting building materials. Ask about the Indoor airPLUS qualification for your next new home.
An energy audit, also known as an energy assessment or survey, is exactly what you need when looking for ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home. A certified HERS Home Energy Auditor will use specialized equipment such as blower doors and infrared cameras to measure air leaks and reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation.
Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC)
The Florida Green Building Coalition is a nonprofit Florida corporation dedicated to improving the built environment. The certification is designed to lead and promote sustainability with environmental, economic, and social benefits through regional education programs. FGBC was conceived and founded in the belief that green building programs will be most successful if there are clear and meaningful principles on which "green" qualification and marketing are based. FGBC is unique in a way that the certification takes into consideration the unique climate that Florida has compared to rest of the nation.